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Van 'The Man' Wilder (Ryan Reynolds) has made college life into a life-style. He has had plenty of time – after all he's been there for seven years. When his father (Tim Matheson) realises that he is still paying his son's college fees, he decides to stop paying. Van, with the help of his assistant Taj (Kal Penn), a freshman from Banglapour, uses every means known to raise enough money to pay for the fees himself. Meanwhile, he takes an interest in student journalist Gwen (Tara Reid), who is commissioned by her editor to write a story on him. But Gwen is going steady with Richard (Daniel Cosgrove), a jealous, neurotic pre-med student.

Review by Louise Keller:
While it may look like any other campus comedy at first glance, Van Wilder is actually different from the rest, with its refreshing, fun-filled and wacky script. I mean, let's face it, you don't expect the central character to want to stay in college after seven years and no degree, relying on Daddy to cough up tuition fees. Oh yeah, Van Wilder loves the college life. After all, it's not about the curriculum, it's about everything else – from motivating the swimming team to saving a student with a death wish - and he does it so well. 

The humour is a mix of slapstick, crazy situations, visual comedy and one liners like "Naomi is 'I moan' backwards and "If he's here, who's running hell?". And it's very funny. I may not be as young as the target audience, but I laughed out loud quite a few times. Wait until you see those scenes with the over-endowed wrinkly faced bulldog! Of course, the canine propels a running gag throughout, with several 'boom boom' tag lines. 

The humour is not forced – it evolves naturally: even the toilet humour comes in one monumental blast. Ryan Reynolds is outstanding in the title role, a cross between a young Chevy Chase and Ben Affleck, and he excels at the deadpan delivery. Tara Reid is lovely as his dream girl, but it's Kal Penn as Taj, with ridiculous lines and droll execution, who is the real scene stealer. What can you expect from an Indian virgin who just wants to bury his face in an exotic woman's lotus flower? College seems to be full of good-looking students – tall, cool guys and gorgeous girls wearing tight tops and short skirts. 

The film looks great and the contempo soundtrack keeps them toes a-tapping. If college were as much fun as Van Wilder leads us to believe, we would all still be there. Stick around for the out-takes, they're a hoot. Lightweight and frivolous, Van Wilder is fun with a capital F. Besides, it reminds us that sometimes we should let our heart lead the way.

Although the movie is shown in its original widescreen format on the DVD, the behind the scenes featurette, music video and trailers are in the standard television 4 x 3 format. The featurette is rather disappointing, comprising mainly of a few short interview grabs from cast, director and writers who in mono-syllabic fashion describe the character of Van Wilder. There are a few short scenes on the set and a short awkward interview with Tara Reid and Ryan Reynolds talking about charisma. Lucky for them, there’s more charisma in the film. Apart from the music video, you can point the ‘Bud’ bottle selector to watch the Van Wilder trailer, or the two trailers that ‘Van Wilder recommends’ - Can’t Hardly Wait or Joe Dirt. But if the features are simply a small add on, the DVD transfer is superb with solid colours and crisp, clear sound.

Published October 3, 2002

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CAST: Ryan Reynolds, Tara Reid, Tim Matheson, Kal Penn, Teck Holmes, Erik Estrada, Curtis Armstrong, Paul Gleason

DIRECTOR: Walt Becker

RUNNING TIME: 93 minutes

SPECIAL FEATURES: Behind the scenes featurette on the making of the movie with cast/crew interviews; Bouncing off the Walls music video performed by Sugarcult; Original Movie trailer; bonus movie trailers; picture disc;

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: October 9, 2002

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